NEW YORK, June 25 (UPI) — The United States is unprepared for possible massive solar flares that could knock out power to much of the nation, a report by scientists says.
A National Academy of Sciences Severe Space Weather Events report says radiation from powerful solar flares could result in the loss of power and communications on a global scale, the New York Daily News reported Friday.
The sun works on an 11-year cycle and is now emerging from its quiet period, scientists say, moving into a phase known as solar maximum that will last from 2012 to 2015.
In that phase, giant solar flares can occur, emitting radiation strong enough to cripple satellites, disable high-voltage transformers and paralyze communications worldwide.
“It’s very likely in the next 10 years that we will have some impact like that described in the National Academy report,” said Dr. Richard Fisher, director of NASA’s solar physics division. “Although I don’t know to what degree.”
Experts say the United States needs to take precautions against such possibilities.
On June 10, the House of Representatives passed the Grid Reliability and Infrastructure Defense Act to protect the nation’s power system against “vulnerabilities.”
A similar bill has yet to be taken up by the Senate, the Daily News reported.
Copyright 2010 United Press International, Inc. (UPI). Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI’s prior written consent.